Defending against Horse Bow

Share some insight about your best TRIUMPH! strategy.
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Bill Hupp
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by Bill Hupp » Fri Mar 05, 2021 2:25 am

David,

It's great to see a tactical discuissions.

I can add a couple of points to the discussion as when the rules were being play tested, we were playing a lot with our Thistle & Rose Mongol and Late Crusader armies.

Leading up to and then at an early Historicon, I ran an 8 player Battle of Legnica game which had many of the attributes you note. Many of the players were new to the rules and armies. We had lots of feedback and group discussion, but we wtinessed both knight armies and horse bow armies victorious. Subsequently I have played lots of historical Crusader era battles with Saracen horse bow and like Hattin, the battles were very balanced.

The biggest issue for the Horse Bow armies IMHO is not getting enough command points. If you get hung up in bow range things can go down hill quickly. I agree with all the tips made above as to knight army tactics. Rod suggests using a Jav Cav next to your Knighrs as a good way to 'catch' the horse bow.

I didn't see DK give his normal explanation on archer math, but I thnk the simpler archery rules really work well. Instead of bunching archers and creating some articial army level 'kill zone' you can spread your archers out and protect them with other troops. There is greater opportunity for tactical choices at the sub army level IMHO. It is still important to get 6-1's and 5-2's when shooting to get any kills, but archery also breaks up enemy lines attacking and I often choose this tactic now without losing out on the occiasonal kill.

Personally, I love the horse bow and javelin cavalry types - it makes the mounted armies more fun to play.
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David Crenshaw
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by David Crenshaw » Fri Mar 05, 2021 3:18 pm

Thanks Bill,

That is a very helpful response.

I watched a good portion of Rod's battle of Hattin video and it was interesting to note that for the scenario he created there was significant terrain (or smoke) to make the game interesting, and the mobile Saladin command went second over the immobile Crusader command, which was not my experience when facing a highly maneuverable army (and the Muslim's also rolled a bunch of ones for pips, negating their mobile advantage initially).

I am obviously a new player and need to learn more of the game mechanics to get comfortable, with that said, I thought the whole point of an English medieval period long bow formation was to create a killing zone. Given the Persian reliance on Bow armed supported infantry in the ancient period, I would suggest that there too, is an example of a highly effective killing ground to keep horsemen at bay. It was not until Alexander introduced the pike to the Persian empire that the bow armed infantry became less effective.

I will say that a consistent frustration with all of the DBx type games from way back has been the pip roll for movement and how critical it can be. I'm coming off one of the awful sessions where it seemed like 1's were all I could roll for pips so I was understandably frustrated. Has anyone toyed around with the idea, or even tried pips on an average dice, (or even average dice +1) to still give some variability to movement options, but make it less extreme?

Just some thoughts. If the game is balanced then probably not worth monkeying with, but as this is a forum to express ideas, my initial reaction was that bow were considerably under-rated (and no, I am not one who thinks that bow armed troops should be the king of the battlefield, balance is key).
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David Schlanger
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by David Schlanger » Fri Mar 05, 2021 3:48 pm

David Crenshaw wrote:
Fri Mar 05, 2021 3:18 pm
I will say that a consistent frustration with all of the DBx type games from way back has been the pip roll for movement and how critical it can be. I'm coming off one of the awful sessions where it seemed like 1's were all I could roll for pips so I was understandably frustrated. Has anyone toyed around with the idea, or even tried pips on an average dice, (or even average dice +1) to still give some variability to movement options, but make it less extreme?

Just some thoughts. If the game is balanced then probably not worth monkeying with, but as this is a forum to express ideas, my initial reaction was that bow were considerably under-rated (and no, I am not one who thinks that bow armed troops should be the king of the battlefield, balance is key).
I will say my normal thing here which is to remind everyone, that players are always free to play the game however they like to play it! If you would like to experiment with average dice or ANY dice (d10) for that matter, please go for it! While I understand the frustration with repeatedly rolling 1's for command points (I think we have all been there!) it is part of the game. In Grand Triumph there is the option to have a Superior command which would never have 1 command point, but in the standard game it is best to use plans that if at all possible require a limited number of pips.

I can assure you the game is balanced. We have been playing it in this current state for years now, and our super secret list of "possible" modifications for the next version in the year 2038 is maybe 2 items long of things that really are not very significant.

DS
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David Kuijt
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by David Kuijt » Fri Mar 05, 2021 5:35 pm

David Crenshaw wrote:
Fri Mar 05, 2021 3:18 pm
I will say that a consistent frustration with all of the DBx type games from way back has been the pip roll for movement and how critical it can be. I'm coming off one of the awful sessions where it seemed like 1's were all I could roll for pips so I was understandably frustrated. Has anyone toyed around with the idea, or even tried pips on an average dice, (or even average dice +1) to still give some variability to movement options, but make it less extreme?
One of the biggest subtleties of the game is to manage pips. More than anything else, pip-management is the skill that separates out the levels of ability in playing Triumph.

The person who taught me DBA (which, as you know, uses the same or a very similar command point system) a million years ago was a fine fellow whose surname was Klosky. He would constantly express his frustration about how whenever he needed it most, he would roll a 1 or 2 for pips -- whenever his army was most in disarray, he would roll low.

I'm a mathematician by training, and an observer of the human condition, and over time I noticed something very interesting. Consider the following metric: let the K number be the number of groups your army is in -- the minimum number of command points it requires to move every stand in your army.

Every time my friend would roll good pips (5 or 6) the K number of his army would increase -- he would be in more groups than he had been before he moved.

So suppose that you roll some good pips, and you roll some bad pips, in a normal random distribution. If every time you roll a 5 or 6 you break your army into more pieces. When you roll low pips you don't, but you don't group up (reduce the number of groups in your army).

And what happens?

If your enemy is observant, and evil, like certain Canadians I could name, your enemy will WANT you to roll 5s and 6s. Because that guarantees, more than anything else, your final defeat. Every time you roll a 5 or 6 you end up with more groups. And luck is not fickle -- luck is as certain as the heat-death of the universe. You WILL roll a 1 or 2, sooner or later. And what happens then? If you've rolled a bunch of 5s and 6s, your army is now in 8 or 9 groups. And you've rolled a 1. You are SCREWED.

But is it the fault of the dice? Nope. It's your own fault, because you kept splitting up your army for temporary advantage, and your K number kept going up, and once your K number exceeded 6 you were just a ticking time bomb, waiting for a roll of 1 or 2. And eventually it happened.

Pip management is the most critical, complex, and difficult skill in the game.

Taking that skill out with average dice is a sad crime against the glory of Triumph. I weep inside, every few years when someone says "hey, what about average dice?"...
David Crenshaw wrote:
Fri Mar 05, 2021 3:18 pm
Just some thoughts. If the game is balanced then probably not worth monkeying with, but as this is a forum to express ideas, my initial reaction was that bow were considerably under-rated (and no, I am not one who thinks that bow armed troops should be the king of the battlefield, balance is key).
Nothing wrong with expressing your thoughts!

With that said, there is a reason I don't play a lot of armies with archers, and that isn't it. I love playing armies with archers, but I want to give the other players a chance. When I play armies with archers, I win a lot. That doesn't mean they are easy to use -- but if you keep your focus and manage your pips, they can be dominant tools. Let me point out one critical point -- combat with Archers doesn't require command points to make it happen. If you are in a position where command points are needed, your Archers can usually continue the defense (or attack) without you spending scarce pip resources on them. And if you're dealing with enemy mounted -- getting your archers in range and disordering the enemy mounted line can have a devastating impact on the enemy attack -- because you are sucking the enemy commanders pips away, forcing him to deal with broken-up groups. And sometimes he has to leave guys standing under the shower of abuse (the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune) because he doesn't have the pips to save them. Just make sure you don't make it easy for him to charge you either, because sooner or later (much sooner, if he is aggressive like Paul Potter :) ) he is going to get tired of getting shot up and charge your guys. Don't make it easy for him.
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by paulgpotter » Fri Mar 05, 2021 6:30 pm

David K, even if I am broken up in groups by shooting, win or lose I am going to charge which has lead to the death of my elements.
David C, earlier I mentioned barriers, in the army cards they are actually called Prepared defenses.
with 4 of these pieces of rough going placed in the center deployment area you could completely block of one of your flanks-if your army has access to such.
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by Rod » Fri Mar 05, 2021 8:50 pm

The PIP system is highly underrated in my opinion. It is an extremely elegant mechanism for creating an ebb and flow on a miniature battlefield or in some aspects the illusion of simultaneous movement. Not always in my favor and I have been just as frustrated with it, but I love it.

When you look at real life battles, stuff happens all at once, sometimes an army is taking initiative sometimes they are caught flatfooted. This is all happening in a continuous flow; generals get wounded, orders get lost, local subordinates seize an opportunity...... Take a look at all your command PIPs over the course of an entire battle, and compare them to your opponent instead of turn to turn and you will start to see that what is really happening is a way to turn IGUGO needs of a miniature battle into the ebb and flow of a confused battlefield. Other systems try to create this with cards, dice pulled from bags, high die roll etc... but the PIP system works fine for creating it.

And as DK points out above it is about managing those PIPs for the times when you roll a 1 and making sure on the next PIP rolling a 1 won't kill you. Eventually the battle gets messy enough you will need those higher PIP rolls, but the goal is to make sure your opponent needs more PIPs than you do, if you can accomplish this you stand a good chance of winning.

I love Horsebow armies, I get in trouble with them all the time by ridding hell bent for leather when I have too many PIPs, then get stuck out of gas and stranded :P

Also, Archers rock in Triumph!, you just have to play the Battle of Marathon to realize much they can rock your world (well Pavise anyway). Hopefully, we will get a chance to try it in person at Nashcon.
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by David Crenshaw » Fri Mar 05, 2021 9:51 pm

Hah! "I weep inside, every few years when someone says "hey, what about average dice?" Sorry to have caused you such pain David K.

In my defense I am no stranger to pip management, though admittedly rusty, but when you aint got none, you ain't got none, and manage as you like it is a frustrating experience which I am sure we have all had when it happens consistently. I never really had much of an opportunity to splinter into too many groups, or rather Paul would do the splintering for me and then I would not be able to respond due to the dreaded "1". Maybe it is just the social worker in me wanting to spare others the pain I suffered!

Thanks for the pointer Paul regarding the prepared defenses cards. I believe I printed my army lists before the cards were available, so I will have to revisit them.

Thanks to everyone for the pointers.

David
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by greedo » Fri Mar 05, 2021 10:47 pm

This does bring up an interesting point:

Is there a way to handicap a player?
If for example, I play against Rod or DK, and I have never played before, is there a way to make the battle a bit more "equal".
I wouldn't recommend mucking with the combat dice, since you need 6s and 1s sometimes as part of the system.

You *could* increase the PIP score (or average it) for the worse player, but then you'd be teaching the new player bad habits (as pointed out by DK with the growing groups) in PIP management.

Or you could allow a higher death rate of say 20 points loss in order to lose the game.
But, my guess is, if you've lost 16, the rest of the army is well on the way to defeat so that might just be postponing the inevitable.

What about something subtle, such as modifying the maneuver roll?
It would make it more likely the beginner gets more control over the terrain, or perhaps the invasion roll so that it's more likely they get to pick sides and move 2nd?
My guess is PIP management is a big part of what separates out beginners from master players, among other things.
But also use and placement of terrain could do it, so giving the better player a bit more/less terrain than they would like might mitigate this. And it wouldn't muck up the game mechanics at all.

Thoughts?

Chris
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by David Kuijt » Fri Mar 05, 2021 11:50 pm

greedo wrote:
Fri Mar 05, 2021 10:47 pm
Is there a way to handicap a player?
Why would you want to?

If you play with a handicap in your favor, it would taint every victorious result you have. All so you can say "I won with an asterisk!"

This is Triumph. Nobody is so good that they cannot be beaten -- and even if they were, there's a luck element. I've had an opponent down 12-0 in a desperate situation where there was virtually nothing they could do to come back -- and yet they did. But that isn't the point -- why would you want to handicap? Are you betting money on the game? That'd be disturbing.
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Re: Defending against Horse Bow

Post by Bill Hupp » Sat Mar 06, 2021 2:30 am

David,

I have used a very simple mechanism to ‘balance’ the game for historical battles and for teaching purposes. Instead of average die, I give players command point chits. And from my experiments it doesn’t take many. I like using it with Mongol armies to encourage them to use multiple commands. Same thing is true for medieval historical battles where there is the typical 3 battles and a reserve. In this big Mongol tribal multi-player convention campaign game where everybody had a 48 point army, As GM I used the chits to keep the campaign interesting and reward players for audacity, honor, etc.

As to the archers, you can still create a killing zone, it just comes from multiple shots vs. manipulating support factors. Rolling more dice is more fun IMHO too.

I agree that the game model is not beyond criticism and, personally, I’m more interested in historical battles than tournament play. I enjoy analyzing the battles this way and appreciate your points. As DS says, it’s your game.

Bill
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